When team StarTale’s Life entered the fourth grand final game in the second Iron Squid tournament, he had lost three games to MVP’s DongRaeGu (DRG). DRG – who won the first game fairly easily and then handily took the second and third – just needed one more win in the best of seven to be crowned the tournament champion.
Life was under intense pressure, especially since he lost the first game after he made a critical error – leaving his infestors in the middle of the map, undefended and easily taken out by DRG. Life was so visibly upset after this game, he left the booth momentarily before returning to and losing the second and third games.
Unfortunately for DRG, the 16-year-old Life refused to let the epic French tournament end in an all-kill. In the fourth game, Life returned to his standard method of play, sending in early zerglings to attack DRG’s hatchery and delay mining time significantly. Life seemed to overextend by attacking a fairly equal number of DRG’s zerglings as well as a queen on DRG’s ramp. This attack required Life to have absolute perfect micro of his zerglings – a feat he executed seamlessly, killing DRG’s queen and zerglings and stunning the game’s casters. Life then held DRG’s counterattack, even cancelling his defensive banelings, possibly giving his fans (and the casters) panic attacks as he narrowly fended off the aggression. Then, he ran into DRG’s base with a host of zerglings, took down a queen and forced DRG to concede the game.
The fifth and sixth games showed the quality of both players’ play. Although DRG had some breathing room with his lead, Life had to win every single game to stay in the tournament. After winning the fifth game, Life demonstrated his will to survive in the sixth when DRG mounted an assault on his base. In a flash, Life observed that the right flank was weaker and cast fungal growth on the left flank to hold it in place, allowing him to quickly destroy the right and then push back the left. By the end of the game, he actually only had fragile hydralisks left in his army. However, the damage output from these units was so strong, that DRG was unable to turn the fight, tying the match-up at three games each.
By this point, people in the crowd were on their feet. The more than 60,000 online viewers flooded the stream’s chat. Even Day and Kaelaris, the tournament’s casters, noted that they had never before witnessed a reverse all-kill, where someone came back from being almost out of the tournament and then took the match-up with straight victories. Starcraft II fans love a good comeback. They cheer wildly for an underdog. With all that set-up, the final game just had to be epic.
DRG and Life did not disappoint. Going for a taste of Life’s own medicine, DRG built a fast spawning pool and gas for early speedling aggression. To his fans’ dismay, Life built an early expansion and extractor – practically the worst build to start with against DRG’s. DRG built a baneling nest and started attacking Life. Life beautifully microed his drones, then ran them away when DRG’s two banelings came after them. Life then built a spine crawler to block the drones from the banelings but was not able to cancel it in time, losing precious resources. DRG started to morph another baneling in Life’s main; Life attacked it with his few zerglings, but it looked dangerously close to finishing. At the very last second, Life’s queen popped out and took down the baneling. With this victory, Life pushed out DRG’s remaining zerglings, and DRG ceded the win.
Fans jumped out of their seats, cheering wildly for the young Zerg player. Indeed, Life himself seemed taken aback throughout the awards ceremony. A reverse all-kill would require perfect play against any opponent; DRG, who acquired a reputation in 2012 for being the best Zerg player in the world, was no ordinary opponent. Life achieved the impossible, showing the world just how unpredictable and epic eSports can be.